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OSU Having A Whale Of A Time Finding Funds For Carcass Project


Oregon State University researchers have a quandary. They’ve a nearly 80-foot long blue whale carcass they want to turn into an educational display…but no funds. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

The blue whale is the largest animal in existence. And the carcass that washed up near Gold Beach in 2015, may be the first one that’s been found in Oregon since the Lewis and Clark era.  OSU has kept the bones in Yaquina Bay so critters can pick its bones clean.

But the bones also need to undergo a chemical process to remove oil. The estimated cost? $125,000. That’s on top of finding a facility that can accommodate 15 tons of skeleton.

Credit OSU
Bones from the 78-foot-long blue whale that washed up near Gold Beach in 2015.

“It’s a very big task," laughs Bruce Mate. "We’re not dealing with bones leftover from the holiday turkey.”

Mate is Director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute. He says they ultimately want to reconstruct the blue whale skeleton for outdoor display.

“Which we hope to be the courtyard of our new marine studies building, they’ll be breaking for that on the 15th of March," he tells KLCC. 

"So in about a two-year time frame, we want to put this near that building, where people can see this magnificent specimen.”

Credit Mr.TinDC / Flickr.com
Large-scale inflatable Blue Whale in Freedom Plaza, in Washington, DC, as an Earth Day display by the Great Whale Conservancy.

Mate says he’ll even consider crowdsourcing if it means reaching that goal. No state or federal funding exists for this type of endeavor, but OSU researchers consider its educational value "immense."

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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